Dumb tweets about Phill Kline get lawyer fired
The Kansas City Star
The latest self-inflicted Twitter casualty is Sarah Peterson Herr, who until this week worked as a research attorney for a judge on the Kansas Court of Appeals. She was fired on Monday, and rightly so.
Last week, Herr provided Twitter followers with a running commentary of former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline’s appearance at a state Supreme Court hearing on charges of ethics violations.
“I may be a little too feisty today…” she tweeted at one point.
That was an understatement.
Perhaps law schools should consider a class in the perils of social media. One cannot, for example, sit in a courtroom in an official capacity and refer to a defendant as “a douchbag,” as Herr tweeted about Kline. One cannot predict that judges would disbar said defendant “for a period not less than seven years.”
“I didn’t stop to think that in addition to communicating with a few of my friends on Twitter I was also communicating with the public at large, which was not appropriate for someone who works for the court system,” Herr said in a statement afterward.
Rule Number One in the Internet age: You are always communicating with the public at large. No tweet, or Facebook posting, or e-mail is safe. Just ask the recently-deposed director of the CIA.
Twitter is singularly dangerous because of the ease with which tweets are disseminated. All it takes is a click of the mouse. Herr thought only her network of friends was reading her tweets. What she didn’t realize is that an Internet search or alert for Phill Kline would have gotten to her tweets fairly quickly. And from there it’s a simple matter of retweeting.
The most unfortunate aspect is that Kline and a league of followers take cover behind the rationale that the former state attorney general is the victim of a witch hunt by liberals who didn’t like that he prosecuted abortion providers. To them, Herr’s stupid tweets are all the proof needed.
Kline’s attorney has called for an investigation into the entire court system, alleging bias. That would be a waste of time. Five state Supreme Court judges have already recused themselves from the hearing, citing conflicts. They were replaced by Kansas appeals judges, though not the one Herr worked for. Any investigation would find a group of experienced judges going about their jobs in a professional manner.
There’s no big conspiracy here. Just a research attorney who has derailed her career, at least temporarily, with a few dumb tweets.